Step Repair: Acrylic covered fiberglass step repair with ecoFINISH

5odaw1s

Active member
May 6, 2019
40
Gainesville Georgia
I waited a year to share our experience of having our in ground acrylic covered fiberglass steps repaired because I wanted a swim season of using the repaired steps and a winter closure so that I could relay how the repair and the company that did the repair fared over that period of time.

Last year we had to replace our 14 year old vinyl liner. This was an ideal time to address the badly deteriorated acrylic covered fiberglass steps. As the photos below show, the acrylic finish had split and started de-laminating all the way around the top ledge. There ware cracks in the top step tread. There were numerous bubbles in the acrylic on the vertical riser between the bottom and middle step and up the left front of the steps. Click/tap the photo to enlarge.

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The estimates I got to replace them were between $6000.00 and $7000.00.
However, one local pool repair guy who didn’t didn’t touch steps told me about a company that had called him a few days before to explain their step and slide repair process and left him their number to give to anyone looking for step/slide repair.
I called them and one of the owners came out and thoroughly examined our steps.
The bad news was our steps were in the top five worst steps he had seen in the 3 plus years they had been doing step repair.
The good news was that his company could repair them. The process was explained and I was given the cost. The repaired steps would be refinished with ecoFINISH and his company was the authorized ecoFINISH installer for this area. (That was the first time I ever heard of ecoFINISH-see NOTE below). Their normal price (May 2019) to repair steps was approximately 55% of the low end estimate I got for replacing the steps. Because of the extensive repairs our steps needed, the price quote was around 65% of the low estimate for replacing them.
The repair included the 10 year ecoFINISH warranty.

The repair took 4 days. The photos below show the repair/refinishing process.

After about two months of using the steps, 4 or 5 spider cracks and one small area where the finish appeared to have separated from the fiberglass appeared on the top ledge of the steps. And 1 spider crack (much smaller than the original crack initially repaired) on the top step below the waterline.
We also found small slick areas on two of the steps where not enough texture had been applied to them. But the steps were not leaking.
I called the company and we mutually agreed to wait until the end of pool season to repair those areas.

I called the company back on October 1st and they came out on October 7th and repaired those areas. The finish was ground/sanded back down to the original fiberglass, but this time instead of filling those areas with fiberglass paste that was originally applied they cut pieces of fiberglass from sheets to fit the area. They coated the area with epoxy and imbedded the fiberglass into the epoxy, gave it a few minutes to cure and repeated that process until the area had been built back up to the original fiberglass level. Then they applied the new finish and put additional texture on the steps. The pool was closed and covered on October 20th.

Fast forward to May 17th of this year. We opened the pool and there were 3 spider hairline cracks on the top ledge. Nothing below the waterline.
I called the company and they are scheduled for the first week of June to take care of those.

Bottom line : After a full season of use and a winter closure there hasn’t been any major issues with the repair. And because of the additional fiberglass that was applied to the steps, they are stronger in those areas.
The steps don’t look new by any means, mostly due to the amount of fiberglass used to fill in all of the acrylic that was removed and the uneven sanding. But they look a thousand times better than they did.

The photos below show the process they used. It is my understanding that the preparation of the surface is critical in preventing the final finish from de-laminating.

On day one the cracked and delaminated acrylic was chipped off. The cracks where the acrylic hadn’t separated from the fiberglass were ground/sanded down to the fiberglass. The blisters under the acrylic were ground/sanded down to the fiberglass.

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On day two the steps were blown off and wiped down with a cleaner. All areas where the acrylic was chipped away or ground/sanded down to the fiberglass were filled with a fiberglass paste and left to cure overnight.

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On the third day the fiberglass fill was sanded down, blown off and wiped down with cleaning solution. Then more fiberglass was added to the areas that were visibly lower and that was left to cure overnight.

On the last day the added fiberglass and entire step was sanded. The steps were cleaned. A coat of epoxy was applied and given time for drying.
The first coat of finish was applied and given 45 minutes to cool. Then the second coat of finish was applied. This time the cooling period was only 5 minutes before the final finish coat was applied.

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The steps were left to completely cool overnight and the liner crew came in and installed the liner the following morning.

NOTE : The company that repaired our steps is the authorized ecoFINISH installer for the southeastern U.S. Their area covers (I believe) the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and the Bahamas. If you would like information on contacting them, send me a PM and I will give you everything I have.
 
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